When I was a kid, which was before any of you were born, the newspapers always had one or two reporters who were elevated above everyone else and wrote commentaries about the news under their own names, i.e., James Reston for The New York Times.
This all changed when we started watching 24-hour news channels like CNN and then Fox, where most of the broadcast time was spent listening to various so-called ‘commentators’ who would ‘explain’ the news.
Then we had the internet, so there was even a great demand for people who could explain not only what had happened but what was going to happen, and they became known as ‘pundits’ once they stopped writing and started spieling on TV.
Now we have a higher class of spielers, and they are called ‘influencers.’ Their job is not just to analyze the news, but to tell the rest of us what we should h=think about what we hear and see.
On occasion, these ‘influencers’ even publish a book for which they are interviewed by other ‘influencers’ who will also at some point be interviewed after they publish their latest book.
Some of these influencers have really long, professional lives. Newt Gingrich, for example, had to quit Congress in 1999. But he’s been spieling along very nicely on Fox and other outlets now for the past 24 years. He just came out with a nasty broadside against Liz Cheney, who seems to be doing a pretty good job of becoming another influencer since she left Congress in 2023.
So, give the above, the question I have to ask is this: How does someone become an influencer other than just being an out-of-work politician who still needs to earn a decent buck?
Take me, for example. I write several columns every day which I post on my own blog and an aggregator blog, which between the two sites gets maybe 400 – 500 people reading my brilliant analyses every day.
I have also been interviewed by The New York Times and The New Yorker Magazine, and I once even appeared on the Piers Morgan show following the mass shooting at Sandy Hook.
But those appearances have been few and far between. And I’m hardly the only writer who would like to become a spieler and go on upwards from there.
So, what I’m going to advise is not what I’m going to do, but what you should do if you want to become an influencer with a loud voice which gets heard up and down the media superhighway every day.
Step Number 1: Go to Harvard, if not as an undergraduate, then as someone who takes a couple of their extension-school courses at night.
Step Number 2: Beg, plead, prostrate yourself or whatever you have to do to land some job, any job, on a media venue which carries political news.
Step Number 3: Find someone who is running for public office at a CD or statewide level and get something published about your candidate and hope that he or she wins.
Step Number 4: Once your candidate gets into office, inundate every digital venue which published anything about politics and tell them that for a minimal cost, you can give them the ‘inside scoop’ about the daily goings-on in D.C. Someone will bite because they all need endless content, particularly if they get it cheap.
Once your name starts appearing as a byline writer about political news, you’re one step away from becoming an influencer, which is where things get a little tricky because you’re not the only one out there who wants to move from print media to voice.
Step Number 5: Hire a good D.C.-connected PR firm to promote you and to do this last step, put together a portfolio of your published writings, along with a 30-second spiel, and make sure that you switch from eyeglasses to contacts before you go live.
Finally, notice I haven’t said anything about what kind of content you need to get your career as an influencer good to go. But that’s because both alt-left and alt-right media venues which feature the presence of influencers don’t really care what you say or how you say it, as long as your so-called analysis can be followed by an ad for something which your audience will want to buy.
In case you haven’t noticed, political media is now how advertising agencies reach the market for whatever crap they have been hired to sell. And don’t worry is what you spiel about has any more relationship to reality than the curative value of some patent medicine that is advertised before, during and after your spiel.
Know the name Atul Gawande? He’s a Professor of Medicine at Harvard and is also a senior administrator for the US-AID and serves on Joe Biden’s Covid-19 Advisory Board. Nit a bad resume, as Grandpa would say, ‘ze hais?’ (read: understand?)
Back in 2012, Gawande published a much-ballyhooed article in The New Yorker Magazine which claimed that hospitals could achieve much better management and cost-controls if they would adopt the standards and methods used by the Cheesecake Factory restaurant chain.
In 2021, the company paid a $125,000 fine to the SEC because it misled investors about its financial status during the Pandemic, for getting to admit in several financial filings that it was experiencing negative cash flows and postponing the payment of rent.
Now, when the SEC uses a word like ‘misled’ what they are really saying is that the company lied. So, why should we assume that the data they gave Atul Gawande which showed how to manage a large company was necessarily based on the truth?
Did Gawande ever make any public statement about whether his so-called ‘research’ into the Cheesecake Factory’s management system had anything to do with reality at all?
Why should he? When you become an influencer, the important thing is to be as influential as possible, regardless of whether you’re right or wrong.